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Memory. 2008 Jan;16(1):29-47.

Review of the contemporary literature on how children report sexual abuse to others: findings, methodological issues, and implications for forensic interviewers.

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Department of Psychology/MS948, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606, USA.


Methods used during forensic interviews with children are driven by beliefs about how children recall and report child sexual abuse (CSA) to others. Summit (1983) proposed a theory (Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome) contending that, due to the specific traumatic characteristics of CSA, children will often delay disclosing abuse or altogether fail to disclose during childhood, deny abuse when asked, and often recant abuse allegations. His theory has had a tremendous impact on the field of CSA forensic evaluations, despite its dearth of empirical support. In this paper, we review and critique the contemporary literature from two main sources: retrospective accounts from adults reporting CSA experiences and studies of children undergoing forensic evaluation for CSA. We conclude that data support the notion that children often delay abuse disclosure, but that among valid abuse cases undergoing forensic evaluation, denial and recantation are not common. Methodological issues and implications for forensic interviewers are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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